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How to Be Inappropriate [Paperback]

Daniel Nester

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Book Description

Oct. 1 2009
Dry, offbeat, and mostly profane, this debut collection of humorous nonfiction glorifies all things inappropriate and TMI. A compendia of probing essays, lists, profiles, barstool rants, queries, pedantic footnotes, play scripts, commonplace miscellany, and overly revealing memoir, How to Be Inappropriate adds up to the portrait of an artist who bumbles through life obsessed with one thing: extreme impropriety.

In How to Be Inappropriate, Daniel Nester determines the boundary of acceptable behavior by completely disregarding it. As a twenty-something hipster, he looks for love with a Williamsburg abstract painter who has had her feet licked for money. As a teacher, he tries out curse words with Chinese students in ESL classes. Along the way, Nester provides a short cultural history on mooning and attempts to cast a spell on a neighbor who fails to curb his dog. He befriends exiled video game king Todd Rogers, re-imagines aconversation with NPR's Terry Gross, and invents a robot version of Kiss bassist Gene Simmons.

No matter which misadventure catches their eye in this eclectic series of essays, How to Be Inappropriate makes readers appreciate that someone else has experienced these embarrassing sides of life, so that they won't have to.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press (Oct. 1 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593762534
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593762537
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 14.2 x 1.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #555,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"If there was Nobel Prize for Achievement in Inappropriateness, Daniel Nester would be Laureate of the Universe. Until then, he'll have settle for having written this shockingly innovative stunner of a book. Nester brings his irreverent, elegiac sensibility to subjects from ranging from the essence of literary truth to the enduring mystery of flatulence, managing in the bargain to highlight the bleak hilarity of human existence--which, when you think about it, is the most inappropriate thing of all." --Rachel Shukert, author of Have You No Shame? "Daniel Nester is funny as hell." --Stephen Elliott "Daniel Nester is a stone-cold genius. Clever, lyrical, inappropriate in all the right ways--I'd rather read him than just about anyone right now." --Darin Strauss, author of More Than It Hurts You "Daniel Nester's essays are haunted by a Victorian perversity. His writing exhibits a kind of Tourette syndrome in which the author continuously abases himself and revels in his own shortcomings. It's a painful kind of comedy leavened by gentle good humor and wonder." --Thomas Beller, author of The Sleep-Over Artist and How To Be a Man "Former McSweeney's editor Nester (English, Coll. of Saint Rose), whose writing has appeared in The Best Creative Nonfiction, The Best American Poetry, and Poets & Writers, presents his debut collection of humorous nonfiction, amassing 41 years' worth of experience in nonconformity. His stories are, as the title suggests, inappropriate, and they often engender squeamishness, discomfort, and laughter. But they are fresh and, at times, touching, qualities that make this an enjoyable read. Subjects include teaching curse words to Chinese ESL students, reimagining a Terry Gross NPR interview of Gene Simmons by substituting Gene Simmons with an AI computer, a collection of references to flatulence in English poesy, the history of mooning, and out-of-context comments he made as a college professor in order to clarify and expand upon his students' writing. Nester includes photographs, illustrations, and a time line of his inappropriate acts from birth to the present. VERDICT Recommended for readers who enjoy memoirs and essays." --Library Journal

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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, Smart, Painful, Honest April 30 2010
By David Barringer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Nester's like a boy in the basement who's so quiet you start to get worried. What the hell's he doing down there? We find out exactly what dirty, obsessive business he's been up to when he comes upstairs and hands us this book, in which he writes about love gone wrong, bands gone wrong, and the history of mooning. Mooning! He writes about a video-game king, a Christian-rock parody band, and the literary history of farting! Farting! Thankfully, he's not the kind of boy who gets all sweaty and overheated hoping you'll love what he loves. He's humble and understated and as surprised as you are about what funny, filthy creatures little boys are, with their lonely cravings and wayward penises. For the sake of submersion journalism, Nester fake-tans, takes penis pills, and teaches creative writing to students in NY. I bought a copy of the book to see what an alternative life I might have led, and one for my younger brother, as a cautionary tale.
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a manic & fearless writer who isn't afraid to expose it all! Sept. 24 2009
By C. O. Aptowicz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Ondi Timoner's documentary, "DiG!" follows two bands: the blandly successful Dandy Warhols, and the raucous, combustible, insanely talented and brilliantly inexplicable Brian Jonestown Massacre. The Brian Jonestown Massacre spends the entire documentary alternating between creating stunningly original, genre-mashing music and systematically trying to destroy their opportunities through booze-soaked infighting and bizarrely normalized instability.

And I mention this all to say this: Daniel Nester's "How To Be Inappropriate" is the Brian Jonestown Massacre of autobiographical / non-fiction essay books.

"How to Be Inappropriate" is fresh, and manic, and exhilaratingly weird. Nester fearlessly allows all the strange incarnations of his id to run rampant, from his misguidedly perverse MFA lit major side ("Pulling the Muse's Finger: A Fartspotter's Guide to Poetic Passing of Wind"), to his mulleted Jersey yahoo side ("Mooning: A Short Cultural History" ), to the surprising vanity of his upstate professor side ("Yes I Tan: The Indoor Tanning Diaries").

Mixed in with these straightforwardly funny musings are oddball non-fiction articles -- such as his interview with "classic video game king" Todd Rogers and his expose of ApologetiX, a Christian Rock Parody Band -- and compelling prose pieces, like "Queries," which is a collection of actual comments Nester has made on his students' creative writing papers and "A.I. Wanna Rock 'n' Roll All Night," where Nester replaces Gene Simmons' responses during his famous Fresh Air with Terry Gross interview with comments written by "ALICE, an artificial intelligence chatbot."

But what really makes the book for me are when Nester defies expectations again, and showcases some incredibly personal and humanizing writing, such as the heart-breaking "Garden Path Paragraphs," where he speaks with brutal honesty about his and his wife's troubles conceiving their first child. Or "Goodbye to All Them," an unapologetic reflection on being a New York City poet who commits the cardinal sin of leaving New York City.

Daniel Nester doesn't hide anything, nor does he try to fit into any prescribed molds about what a book of collected non-fiction / autobiographical essays should be. Rather with "How to Be Inappropriate," he smashes those expectations, sets 'em on fire, and then stand over the smoldering ashes to play an extended solo on talk box guitar.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and artful Jan. 13 2010
By R - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a great book, and not only for the reasons you (if you are drawn to it for the "inappropriate" content) may think. The attention grabbers are the ones about the most taboo subjects (read the table of contents), but How to Be Inappropriate, at it most comic and its most serious, is so much more than that. My favorite of the super funny essays is "Queries," which lists comments he's made on students' writing assignments--"Isn't everything tucked lovingly tucked?," "Is there another, non-legendary Kraken?" The gentleness with which the author treats his students' work heightens the funniness of their contorted language while celebrating the strange products that can result from the awkward effort to put words on paper.

But (and I hope I don't turn off anyone who wants a funny book, because it IS funny) Daniel Nester's book is also quite moving. Several essays--my favorite is "The Difference Between Chickens and Goats"--explore in between times in the author's life, when he has finished one part of his life and is waiting for another to begin. They convey the poignancy of those moments, the lost feeling, the uneasiness of transition. This is a different kind of inappropriate--the feeling of being out of place, the sense that you are acting in ways that do not fit your context. And it is a different kind of funny, the in-retrospect kind you experience when you look back on a painful time in your life and recognize the humor of the human condition.

How to Be Inappropriate is a great humor book, but it is also great writing. It is ideal for anyone who appreciates the art of the personal essay.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that stealthily gets at the very serious through humor Jan. 20 2010
By C. E. Connelly - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
No doubt about it, there are hilarious moments in this book--the furious, outrageously violent, new endings composed by ESL students for The Catcher in the Rye, the bizarre queries his student's even more bizarre writing assignments required the he make--but this is not a book of jokes. The humor is often daringly dark--it's sad and little troubling that a young artist the author dates allows a security guard at the defunct investment company "Stair-Burns" pay to lick her feet. Also, at the heart of the book is a series of essays that describe his life from the time he moved to New York to become a writer (only to find out the first that an estranged ex-girlfriend happens to live next door) to the time he left to try with much worry-making help from science to start a family. It is a complex book that is sad, serious, and moving all at the same time.
3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The only inappropriate thing is the title. April 6 2010
By Thomas R. Hunter II - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I was given this book as a gift, as I have a sense of humor that rarely involves anything but the taboo. Unfortunately, this book comes no where close to inappropriate. Its more of a collection of random stories with the pretext of "you had to be there."

Another thing that really bothered me was while trying to portray the Everyman slogging through life's ups and downs, the pretentious language seems to be the author's own private joke on the reader.

This book is in no way shocking, exciting, or fun to read. A complete let down.
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